I am sick of talking about princesses. I am sick of my daughter talking about how much she loves princesses, but I’m also sick of hearing and reading about parents hating princesses. So when a review copy of The Princess Problem landed on my desk at work, I rolled my eyes and ignored it for a while.
Princesses aren’t going anywhere however, and neither was this book. When I finally gave it a chance, I was pleasantly surprised. The Princess Problem was more than a rant about how princesses are ruining our daughters. It’s actually a guide to talking to our kids about the media they consume as it relates to princesses. There are discussion questions for movies and ideas for healthy media consumption. It’s a fantastic resource with a practical sensibility. Find out more on the author’s web site.
While I’m on the topic of princesses, I want to recommend a couple of books that will appeal to both princess-loving kids and princess-hating parents:
The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale is an early chapter book about a princess who is secretly a superhero. My six-year-old daughter was obsessed with this book for months, which is a pretty strong endorsement right there. Definitely a fun pick for the kids who want to dress up in pretty clothes and do the rescuing.
Princess in Training by Tammy Sauer features a disappointing princess. She’s not very princessy, but those non-princessy interests come in handy when a dragon sneaks in the castle. This picture book is cute and fun.
Princess Sparkle Heart Gets a Makeover by Josh Schneider has enough pink sparkles on the cover to attract the princess loving kid, but the story isn’t really about princesses. It’s about a girl and her doll and what happens when that doll is attacked by the family dog.
Parents and other people who interact with kids might also be interested in this post on Princess Shaming in which a librarian advises, “Find out what it is about the princess that makes your kid want to read about her and be her; find out what your kid thinks it means to play princess.”
Right on. Instead of hating princesses, let’s think critically about them.
I have a five year-old girl in my life, and it follows seemingly inevitably that princesses are also a part of my life. This is hardly the first time I’ve brought up princesses on this blog, and among parents of girls, the topic has been covered again and again. Still we can never seem to resist a chance to talk princess with other parents, whether we love them or hate them. So I listened eagerly (and added my two cents) to the MPR segment which had two dads giving their take on princess culture.
As an aside, does it seem like more dads are talking about parenting these days? I hope so. Parenting doesn’t have to be such a girls club.
Anyway, I think it was a caller who brought up the idea of redirecting the princess obsession with a little reality. Princesses don’t just wear pretty dresses and go to balls, and your young daughter might not have quite the same view of royal life after learning more about real princess life. For the parents who decide to go that route (more power to you!), here are a couple of picture books you might want to slip into your bedtime story rotation:
The Princess and the Peas by Caryl Hart – When Lili-Rose May won’t eat her peas the doctor declares that she must be a princess, so they send her off to the castle. She’s very excited until she learns all the work that comes along with being a princess, and eating peas back home with her family doesn’t seem so bad after all. (This might also be a good choice for picky eaters.)
Princess in Training by Tammi Sauer – Princess Viola just wants to be the darling of her kingdom, but she is no good at princess stuff like waving and dancing. Her parents send her to Camp Princess to learn everything she needs to know. Only she ends up saving the day with her non-princess skills and becoming the darling of her kingdom anyway. (This one is a favorite in my house.)
Maybe one of these will change the perception of princesses in your house or at least vary the story up a bit. Either way good luck to you.
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As we read The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool, my little one declared the princess who returns the cloud-spun clothes a “hero.” It may not seem worth mentioning unless you remember this post: What princesses can do. I couldn’t help but smile.
More photos can be found at my photoblog: Snapshots
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I just put Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munch on hold at the library. Best princess book I can think of. Books are how I handle issues like this. How do you address it? (Or maybe you don’t?) Input and opinions welcome! :)